COUNTCam2 is a video-based system for counting vehicles created by CountingCars.com. Inside the COUNTCam2 body is a digital video camera and recorder, capable of recording several hundred hours of footage. The video is later retrieved and analyzed by the user in order to study traffic volume, speed, and vehicle types.
What makes the CountCam unlike anything like it on the market is its relatively compact size, ease of use, and wireless connectivity to a mobile device app for setting up the recording. The user can setup either a low or high-resolution recording via the mobile app, press start and walk away. Later, the video is retrieved via a USB cable connected between the CountCam and a computer. The units use PC-based video processing software to analyze the video file, and gain the necessary insights into traffic.
The COUNTCam2 is comprised of a few key components outlined below. First, a pole-mountable camera with an adjustable angle is secured against a street fixture like a stop sign or lamp post. The camera houses a high capacity SD card and large 50Ah rechargeable battery capable of providing industry-leading recording time on a single charge. The camera’s built-in WiFi connection to a mobile app provides a user with a live video feed allowing them to verify the recording setup and control the recording start/stop. The user can also adjust the angle of the camera to get the information they need most.
It was important for Tomorrow Lab to understand the core innovation of the CountCam: to combine a compact sports camera with a large battery and robust housing to be mounted to an extendable pole as outlined above. This key knowledge allowed us to move quickly in development as it reduced the number of sub-systems that needed ground-up engineering. Working with an exciting sports camera supplier meant we could focus on the camera housing and larger battery design exclusively.
By solving the camera electronics questions early, we moved quickly on to the next challenge: how do we house the camera in a secure, water-proof enclosure, with an adjustable angle? To address this question, we hand-made made several 1:1 scale foam mockups to explore how to create an intuitive and secure camera-tilt mechanism. With a direction chosen, we established a reasonable internal product architecture, water-proofing, and assembly strategy. Lastly, we developed a minimal design approach that would give the camera a look of authority but also not draw too much attention to itself.
After establishing the initial product architecture, we created several machined prototypes to evolve the tilting mechanism. A robust, push-button feature allowed a one-handed design to tilt and securely hold the camera in the selected position when mounted to the pole. As an outdoor electronic product, we consider durability as always the paramount concern.